Parents trapped in Thailand as surrogacy laws change

Reporter: Denham Hitchcock | Producers: Lisa Ryan, Mick O'Donnell

When the story broke of Gammy being left behind by his Australian parents because he had down syndrome, Thailand’s military general effectively banned all westerners with newborns from leaving the country.

Hundreds of mums and dads were trapped in Thailand with their babies —like Adam and Kate and their twins Sierra and Mali.

The couple spent $200,000 on six IVF treatments before deciding to use a Thai surrogate.

"I’d got to a point after our last IVF that I said 'no more I can’t' because I felt like we had good embryos and as soon as they were transferring them to me, I felt like I was killing them," Kate told Sunday Night.

"I just couldn’t do that anymore"

In Australia it is illegal to pay someone to carry your baby, but in Thailand it is big business — approximately 200 Australian couples used Thai surrogates last year.

It costs around $75,000 including flights, accommodation and expenses.

But the changes came into effect the day Mali and Sierra were born, requiring couples like Adam and Kate to get a court order and be interviewed with their surrogate by immigration.

"We found out they were all getting turned back I think 3 couples got turned back and then we realised we had to do something else to get out," Adam said.

Adam also found out he had lost his job at a meat works company while he was away.

"We are just about out of money, our cards are maxed out."

"It’s the happiest time of our life and also the scariest time of our life."

Steve and James

Sunday Night also followed Melbourne couple Steve, a carpenter, and James, an event organizer.

They were in Thailand for the birth their son from a surrogate.

Australian student Amanda Lavin donated two eggs to the couple – one resulted in the birth of their daughter Aliesha who was born to a surrogate mum in India two years ago.

Three weeks ago they welcomed their son Rhyley into the world, but became stranded as the laws changed and they were required to get a court order and bring their surrogate to the airport.

Steve and James mortgaged their home and took out four personal loans to make it happen, but after spending so much time away from Melbourne James lost his job.

"At this point in time we can’t leave with baby Rhyley and we’re not leaving without him. He’s our son, we want to be with him — he needs to be with us."